Meet your Maker (Space)
If you have not heard of the Maker Movement by now, you ought to Google it! It is a newer focus for design in art and function, as individuals will make their own iPhone projector instead of buying an Apple TV, or program a circuit board to make LEDs light up a certain way for a robot they are building! There are more and more projects being realized by people at home or in a small Maker Space in their area, allowing for unlimited creativity and bringing your concepts to life right in your own hands!
Recently I visited the Hardesty Center FabLab (short for fabrication laboratory) in Tulsa, OK. In this facility, members are able to use machines like:
- 3D Printers
- Laser Cutter / Engraver
- 3 Axis Machines (large and small)
- Vinyl Cutter
- 3D Scanner
- Circuit Fabrication / Assembly / Testing
This FabLab is unique to other labs, as it is not attached to a school, so it is open to the public (but you must purchase a membership). There are many levels of membership, even a student or artist membership! Also, a lot of the machines you use have materials available or scraps to use or test with at no cost to you! They are very generous and make it pretty simple to use each station and know where all the materials and components are stored.
In order to use the lab, you must purchase a membership first, and then take their classes for each machine you intend to use. I took my first class last night for Laser Cutting / Engraving Basics, and it was awesome! The program we used was simple, and using the machine was really simple as well! We each got to design one thing and then laser cut it from a scrap of our choice, so here is a seashell necklace design I made from clear acrylic!
It’s amazing to do work on a computer and then fabricate it all within 30 minutes! And it would be similar for 3D Printing, Vinyl Cutting, etc.
Something special about this lab is that the staff is there to help only when you need it. Once you take the class, you just run the machine on your own without anyone hovering over your shoulder to make sure you do it right. This allows for you to be more comfortable while you work, but also lets you make mistakes and figure out what went wrong! And you can still ask for help! Though, you must know your stuff. You can’t ask them how to model a 3D chair, that part is up to you!
Everything about this Maker Space is really inviting, inspiring, and empowering! The only draw back for me is the distance. Going to Tulsa each time I want to use a machine isn’t a huge obstacle, but I wish they had a place exactly like it here in Oklahoma City! One of the Lab Techs did point me in the direction of a few places here in OKC (linked below) that would at least have similar capabilities like 3D Printing and Laser Cutting, but I haven’t explored them yet! With the summer coming up, I plan to do just that, and I invite you to check them out too!
FabLab Tulsa: http://www.fablabtulsa.com/
Other Maker Spaces in Oklahoma
- Oklahoma City Idea Space: http://www.okcideaspace.org/
- OHM Space: http://www.ohmspace.org/
- Prototek: http://prototekokc.com/
- Geeks OK: http://www.geeksok.com/